Today was supposed to be the last day on earth for convicted murderer Julius Jones. But a campaign that has gone on for two decades and that has ramped up over the last three years bore fruit as Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt commuted his death sentence.
Jones will continue to serve a life sentence without parole.
According to ABC News:
“After prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case, I have determined to commute Julius Jones’ sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” Stitt said in a statement released Thursday.
Last week, a federal appeals court rejected Jones’ final appeal, which meant the decision to spare his life lay only with Stitt, who could have accepted the parole board’s recommendation to grant Jones clemency. Jones’ execution date was slated for Nov. 18.
In September, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended Stitt commute Jones’ sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Stitt said at the time he was waiting for a clemency hearing to make a decision.
Nearly two months later, on Nov. 1, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted to recommend clemency for Jones in a 3-1 favor.
Jones was arrested and charged with murder at the age of 19 in 1999. The circumstances surrounding the murder of Oklahoma businessman Paul Howell have been relatively sketchy with multiple defendants pointing to each other. The case has been receiving nationwide attention since s 2018 episode of ABC’s “The Last Defense” highlighted it.